Education choice leads Ezekiel Andrew McCall to Broadway
Growing up in the small Mississippi Delta town of Itta Bena, Ezekiel Andrew McCall sang. He always sang.
His father, Rev. Joe McCall, was a church minister, and the choir was where Ezekiel discovered his passion.
“It wasn’t until about 8th or 9th grade when I first began to sing solos,” he said. “I was a nerdy art kid and my gifts made room for me.”
Always drawing, writing or singing, he was inspired by anything creative – and he was good at it. Really good.
“The thing about the Delta is that there aren’t a lot of opportunities,” he said. “My school was fine, but I had the abilities to do more if I was given the opportunity”
Ezekiel was in his sophomore year at Leflore County High School in Greenwood when his English teacher recognized his abilities and encouraged him to apply for a new arts school that was being created. That school was the Mississippi School for the Arts.
The decision to allow him to apply was a tough one for his parents. The thought of their young son leaving home to pursue his dream of performing was scary, but they knew that if Ezekiel was going to have the kind of career he so desired he would have to leave home.
“I remember working on my audition piece,” he said. “I sang ‘Ol’ Man River’ and it turned out to be the link to starting a career I never could have imagined.”
Ezekiel was accepted into the Mississippi School for the Arts and his parents had to face the decision of allowing him to move away for a better educational opportunity. It was hard, but they did it, and Ezekiel moved to Brookhaven in 2004 to finish high school and perfect his craft.
“Looking back, that was the best decision my parents could have made for me because it gave me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had at my high school in Greenwood,” Ezekiel said. “It was through my time at the Mississippi School for the Arts that I began to understand what a professional career as a singer could look like.”
Ezekiel graduated and went on to Mississippi College (MC) with the dream of an opera career.
“That was something I’d never have been exposed to in Greenwood,” he said. “I was pining for an operatic career by the time I left the school for the arts. I wouldn’t have ever had the exposure to genres like opera at home in Greenwood. Of course, I sang in church choir, I sang jazz Gospel, and R&B, but there was so much more that I got to know because of the opportunity I was provided.”
He received a degree in vocal performance and went on to do post graduate study at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music before returning to University of Southern Mississippi where he worked on a graduate degree.
Ezekiel began to realize that there was a real possibility he could make a career out of his love of performing. He began working with audition companies and was able to take advantage of some great opportunities to strengthen his career.
“I remember the first time I was cast professionally in a musical in 2014,” Ezekiel said. “I was getting paid to perform in Columbus, OH and it was great! It was chasing those moments of affirmation that led me to believe that I could do this.”
Musical theater quickly became his niche.
“The opportunities started stacking up and once I moved to New York and became a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and got an agent I started auditioning for the bigger Broadway shows,” he said.
Ezekiel auditioned for The Lion King and was cast in his first Broadway musical in October 2021.
“I’ll never forget hearing it, ‘They picked you!’” Ezekiel said. “There was a lot of rejoicing and crying because it was something that my family and I had been working and sacrificing for.”
Today, Ezekiel can be seen performing eight shows per week in The Lion King on Broadway.
“You have to know when you’re going through all of this. You have to know that you will end up on the stage, and I always knew I’d be here,” he said, “God gave me the faith to not give up. I love the theater and I love my job.”
Looking back, Ezekiel credited his parents’ decision to send their son to the school that best suited his needs as the launchpad for his career.
“The chances that I would have been able to have this type of career were much slimmer had I stayed in the school in Greenwood,” he said. “I don’t want to minimize my school there, but I had so many more opportunities by being allowed to go where I could get the best education for me.
“It wasn’t an easy decision for my parents to make, but my teachers at Greenwood encouraged them that it was the right choice for me. They saw something in me and knew that I needed another option.”